A fair show in the flesh?

by George Swinnock

There are several things which may help to make the
life fair in the eyes of men; but nothing will make it
amiable in the eyes of God, unless the heart be changed
and renewed.

Indeed, all the medicines that can be applied,
though they may cover sin, they can never cure
the corruptions and diseases of the soul.

Some insects lie in a deep sleep all the winter. They stir
not, make no noise, and one would think them dead. But
when the weather alters, and the sun shines, they revive
and show themselves. So though lusts may seem dead
in an unregenerate man, they are only laid asleep, and
when opportunity comes, they will reveal themselves.

Shame may hide sin, but it will not heal sin. Corruption
often lies secret in the heart, when shame hinders it from
breaking out in scabs and blotches in the life.

Fear may do somewhat to curb a corrupt nature, but it
cannot cure it. The bear dares hardly touch his desired
honey for fear of the stinging of the bees. The dog refrains
from the food on the table, not because he does not like it,
but because he is afraid of the cudgel. Many leave some
sin in their outward actions, for fear they should starve if
they kept it; yet are still fond of their sin.

This inward love of sin is indeed its life, and that
which is most dangerous and deadly to the soul.

Sin reigning in the heart, is oftentimes more hurtful
than when it rages in the life. Such civil people go to
hell without much disturbance, being asleep in sin.
They are so far from being awaked that they are many
times praised and commended.

Example, custom, and education, may also help a man
to make a fair show in the flesh. They may prune and lop
sin, but never rip it up by the roots. All that these can do,
is to make a man like a grave, green and flourishing on
the surface and outside, when within there is nothing but
rottenness and corruption.

If the chief fault were not in the vital parts, then outward
applications might be effectual. When the fault is in the
foundation of a house, it cannot be mended by plastering
or painting.